The Interrelatedness of System Components


Katherine Curry

When considering a school through a systems perspective, it is important to have an understanding of each of the components in a system. These components work together to create value to the client/customer. The list below offers some insight into resources, activities, and outputs/outcomes in a school system:


  • Research indicates that a teacher is the single most important influence (resource) on a child’s learning in a school, and principal leadership is second (Fullan, 2014). Personnel expenses, such as teacher and administrator salaries, are the largest single cost expenditure in education (OECD, 2013).
  • Facilities also represent a primary budget item across schools. Facilities help to promote a culture/climate that can promote student learning. Therefore, careful attention to resources is an essential step for school effectiveness.


  • Technology offers important considerations for educational leaders. For example, the traditional format of delivery involves students meeting on campus five days each week for approximately eight hours each day. However, technology allows schools to operate using a hybrid format where students come to campus part of the time and complete work online for the remaining days. Additionally, a “flipped classroom” approach allows students to gain knowledge away from the classroom and apply that knowledge under the supervision of the teacher. Many delivery formats are available to school leaders, and edupreneurs must consider which delivery method best meets the needs of their students.
  • Effective edupreneurs understand that activity considerations greatly influence resources that are needed to meet student needs. Also, understanding the “target market” of your school will help you to define which types of activities/services are needed.
  • Activities may also include services for special needs students or extracurricular activities offered to students. Understanding the goals of the organization can help to determine the types of activities that are needed.

Outputs and Outcomes

  • It is important to differentiate between these two terms.  Outputs are short-term results such as grades or number of students in the school. Outcomes are medium to long-term results that reflect a benefit gained from services (activities). An example of an outcome could be scholarships awarded, recognitions for outstanding performance, or college preparedness. When used in decision making, understanding the difference in these two terms can mean the difference between mediocre and exceptional organizational effectiveness.
  • A recent publication in NonProfit Times (2015) suggests that mediocre organizations make decisions based on outputs while exceptional organizations make decisions based on outcomes (NonProfit Times, 2015).
  • An effective edupreneur knows to consider both outputs and outcomes, and he/she understands that they have very different emphases in decision making processes.

Applying what you know about the difference between outputs and outcomes, please answer the following questions:


  1. What types of decisions are based on outputs in your school?
  2. What types of decisions are based on outcomes in your school?
  3. What would be the likely result if you solely considered outcomes in leadership decisions?


  • Fullan, M. (2014). The principal: Three keys to maximizing impact. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Nonprofit Times (2014). Grants: Outputs versus outcomes. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), (2013). Resources invested in education. In What makes schools successful? Resources, Policies and Practices (Vol IV). Retrieved August 14, 2017.
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